One of the bright spots for the Boston Red Sox in the second half of the season: the strong major league debut of first baseman Travis Shaw.
A ninth round pick in 2011 out of Kent State University, Travis is the son of former major league pitcher Jeff Shaw. He performed well in the low minors but had trouble adapting to advanced pitching when he reached Double-A in 2013, hitting just .221 that year for Portland in the Eastern League, although he showed enough power and patience to boost his wRC+ to 107; nothing great for a first baseman but at least better than league. He made a change to his hitting mechanics in 2014 and had a better season, combining for a .278/.353/.473 line between Double-A and Triple-A.
He rated as a Grade C prospect for me entering 2015. I liked his strike zone judgment and general approach, but felt that he was a mistake hitter who could have trouble catching up with big league fastballs. Indeed, a slow start this year for Pawtucket fit into that narrative: he hit just .249/.318/.356 in 289 at-bats in the first half.
Shaw got promoted to the majors anyway when the Red Sox needed a bat in August. His debut went better than could possibly be expected based on the first half: he hit .274/.331/.491 with 13 homers in 226 at-bats for a 119 wRC+ and a 1.6 fWAR.
Repeatable in a full year? Based on the entirety of his career, he projects as more of a .240-.250 hitter at the big league level, with decent power. A hitter with that profile can easily hit .274/.331/.491 over such a 226 at-bat sample without having any real change in his ability level.
That doesn't mean that Shaw can't be useful. My thinking at this point is that Travis Shaw is the new Brian Daubach. Does that comp work for you?